Former CTV News chief anchor Lisa LaFlamme has a growing army of supporters.
High-profile Canadians such as former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, singer Jann Arden, Indigo chief executive Heather Reisman, former federal cabinet ministers Lloyd Axworthy and Catherine McKenna, and singer Anne Murray have signed an open letter in the Globe and Mail accusing Bell Media of sexism and ageism in their "business decision" not to renew LaFlamme's contract.
LaFlamme, 58, had been with CTV for 35 years, including for 11 years as chief news anchor and senior editor.
The telecommunications giant BCE owns Bell Media, which owns the CTV network. In a statement issued on Friday (August 26), BCE and Bell Canada CEO Mirko Bibic claimed that the decision to replace LaFlamme was not linked to her age, gender or grey hair.
"I am satisfied that this is not the case and wanted to make sure you heard it from me," Bibic said. "While I would like to say more on the Bell Media decision, we are bound by a mutual separation agreement negotiated with Lisa, which we will continue to honour."
An online petition calling on CTV to reinstate LaFlamme as chief anchor has 179,178 signatures as of this writing.
LaFlamme has issued only one public statement about her departure from CTV, which is embedded in the tweet below.
Bibic also revealed that the vice president of national news, Michael Melling, has been placed on leave pending a workplace review.
The Globe and Mail has previously cited an unnamed source who stated that Melling had asked who gave LaFlamme permission to let her hair go grey during the pandemic. She did this when salons and barbershops were shut down by the government due to the pandemic.
Bibic did not address that alleged comment specifically, preferring to focus on broader trends in his industry.
"We are at a crossroads where viewing behaviours have changed dramatically and traditional broadcasting is under severe stress worldwide," he stated. "In an environment of declining ratings and global online platforms, we can’t keep relying on traditional broadcasting.
"The days when viewers wait until 11 PM to get their news are gone," he continued. "While some may resist change, it is necessary and we need to confront this. The CTV national news team needs to work on an integrated and aligned basis, dedicated to a common strategy and Bell Media needs to provide our journalists with the resources they need on all platforms where news is consumed."
Others who've shown their support for LaFlamme include Wendy's Canada, Dove, and Sports Illustrated.
A previous version of this story incorrectly identifed Mirko Bibic as CEO of BCE and Bell Media when, in fact, he's CEO of BCE and Bell Canada.